The end brings an excellent point – many of our cultures already DO have celebrations for the dead we can and should turn to.
Heathens have our ancestral practices, as well as other celebrations for the Dead – Personally I make observances for the Dead regularly, particularly on Mother’s and Father’s day (Historically, there was the Disablot and Alfarblot, so those are my modern takes on it!) as well as our Military dead when appropriate, and Europeans/European pagans have Samhain/Halloween on our calendars.
I personally would like to see Halloween/Samhain celebrated with more respect. The OP is right – we have let it become a holiday of commercialization, plastic, candy and nonsense. Samhain should be a special time to be (more!) conscious of our Dead. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be fun – let the children have their candy. Go to a party. Dress up like something fun (and preferable something not racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc) and go to parties. But remember the dead. Remember that we’re celebrating more than just an excuse to dress us and gorge on candy.
Or else Samhain will become just as plastic and shiny as Christmas or Easter – two holidays that were so, so important to the Catholic liturgical calendar, and now are just commercial nonsense. (Easter is THE DAY UPON WHICH THE MYSTERY OF THE RELIGION HAPPENED, and I know ‘Catholics’ who see bunnies and candy and ham dinners. Talk about the fall of reverence. Do we really want this to happen with our Holy Days?
Dear White People (or should I say Queridos Gringos/Gabachos),
Let me begin by saying it is completely natural that you would find yourself attracted to The Day of The Dead. This indigenous holiday from Mexico celebrates the loving connection between the living and our departed loved ones that is so deeply missing in Western culture. Who wouldn’t feel moved by intricately and lovingly built altars, beautifully painted skull faces, waterfalls of marigold flowers, fragrant sweet breads and delicious meals for those whom we miss sharing our earthly lives. I understand. Many cultures from around the world celebrate these things, and many of them at this time of year. As a woman whose Latin@ heritage is Puerto Rican, I have grown up in California, seeing this ritual all my life and feeling the ancestral kinship to this reverent, prayerful honoring of the departed.
Let me continue by saying that it is…
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